November 17th, 2013
The Arizona Fall League concluded Saturday November 16th with the Championship Game between Surprise and Mesa. Surprise won 2-0 in a well played game.
Here are some reflections on the season.
We saw three catchers that should be very effective future Major League players:
Padres Austin Hedges, Rangers Jorge Alfaro and Giants Andrew Susac. Of the three, Hedges and Alfaro have excellent arm strength. Alfaro is a tremendous all-around athlete with the ability to hit for average as well as play stellar defense.
While there were great athletes on display, Athletics shortstop Addison Russell might have been the best overall athlete in my opinion . Alfaro and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton were certainly in my top three.
The starting pitching this season was among the best I’ve seen in the league in years. Among they guys that got my attention were Blue Jays Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, Giants Kyle Crick, Orioles Eduardo Rodriguez, Nationals Sammy Solis, and Marlins Andrew Heaney. In a rarity, I did not see Angels Michael Roth pitch. Pirates starter Jameson Taillon was rusty in his first start-the one I saw. He left the league early with a bit of a groin injury.
Giants reliever Derek Law is a very good bullpen prospect.
Orioles outfielder Henry Urrutia has a Darryl Strawberry body and similar quick hands to the former Mets star. Urrutia is a line drive doubles machine, but I think his power will come. He just can’t play defense. That means he’s a designated hitter type, as he may yield more runs defensively than he’ll offer with his bat.
Orioles infielder Jonathan Schoop (pronounced Scope) is going to be in the mix for an infield job if he keeps up the improvement I’ve seen. Probably at 2B with the presence of
J J Hardy at shortstop.
Red Sox 2B Mookie Betts got my attention as a good athlete with a very good approach to his game.
The Indians Tyler Naquin makes things happen from the top of the order. He makes good contact and has a real gun for an arm in right field.
Nationals Steven Souza, Jr. is a player to really watch. He’s a big, strong guy with power and an ability to hit.
I was shocked at the agility and ability of huge Giants first baseman Angel Villalona.
The Astros Japhet Amador hit a ton of home runs in the Mexican League. Very big guy. I’m not sure he can hit Major League quality pitching. When he gets into a pitch, though, it flies a mile.
The trio of Cubs players including Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler made an impact. Especially league MVP Bryant. Almora left his game Thursday with a minor injury that kept him out of the Championship game. My jury is still out on Soler. I worry about a) his conditioning going forward and b) his aggressive swings at high fastballs.
Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed can play very good defense. His offense lags.
Angels 1B C J Cron looks to be very close to Major League ready to me. Maybe a bit more seasoning, but he had a great fall. As did Red Sox 1B Travis Shaw, but he doesn’t look as advanced as Cron.
Too bad White Sox infielder Micah Johnson had to leave the league early with an injury. He was making an impression.
Tigers 2B Devon Travis may not be big in stature, but his game is pretty well refined.
Twins OF prospect Byron Buxton left the league early with a shoulder that barked on him most of the fall. But he’s every bit the athlete advertised as the best prospect in the game.
I think the Brewers will like the power potential of OF Mitch Haniger. When he gets into a pitch, the ball just jumps. I was impressed.
I don’t see why Braves Tommy La Stella can’t play 2B for the Braves at some point in the coming season. He’s a gritty, hustling contact hitter.
I’ll be doing one more Arizona Fall League blog this coming week. In that edition of BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD I will share my position by position All AFL team.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for checking my articles on MLBPipeline.com.
That’s it. I’m done.